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Northern Ireland off the mark against Cyprus

Northern Ireland 1-0 Cyprus
Jim Magilton's side remain bottom of Group 9 despite opening their account courtesy of an Andreas Christofides deflection.

Northern Ireland beat Cyprus at Mourneview Park
Northern Ireland beat Cyprus at Mourneview Park ©UEFA.com

Northern Ireland are off the mark in qualifying Group 9 thanks to a 1-0 win against Cyprus in Lurgan.

Defeated in all of their first five fixtures in the section – including a 3-0 reverse in Nicosia in May – Jim Magilton's side earned their first win with a goal five minutes from the end, Andreas Christofides directing substitute Jonny Gorman's free-kick past his own goalkeeper at Mourneview Park. It was the home side's first shot on target, and they might have had a second goal when Gorman drew a good save from Giorgos Loizou in the final stages.

Ryan Brobbell had an effort blocked in the first half, and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Conor Brennan had a first save of note to make on 62 minutes, when he denied Kostakis Artymatas. Captain Pieros Sotiriou and Nikos Efthimiou then threatened, but a draw seemed the most likely result until Gorman's late intervention. Cyprus stay fourth in Group 9, three points adrift of third-placed Italy and seven behind pacesetters Belgium.